It cost the Peachtree City Council $2,025 to refund Mayor Don Haddix his back pay Thursday night as part of a settlement agreement to avoid a lawsuit over the unprecedented pay cut council enacted on Haddix in May.
The agreement also calls for Haddix’s pay for this fiscal year to be fully restored, and the city did not have to pay Haddix any attorney’s fees as a result.
The settlement action was taken to avoid a potential lawsuit that could have put the city on the hook for “up to six figures” if the city had lost, according to Mayor Pro Tem Kim Learnard.
The settlement agreement was approved by council on a 4-0 vote and does not require the city to reimburse Haddix for attorney’s fees. Council also approved payment for its outside counsel in the case, Laurel Henderson, as city attorney Ted Meeker was a potential witness in the case and could not represent the city at any point in the matter.
Haddix abstained from the vote and discussion on the settlement, but voted against the payment for Henderson’s services on principle.
In May, council voted to cut Haddix’s pay from $750 a month to just under $75 a month, and they continued that pay cut by making it a part of this year’s city budget. The pay cuts were a reaction to recoup nearly $10,000 in legal fees the city paid to litigate and settle a libel lawsuit filed against Haddix by former Mayor Harold Logsdon.
Haddix’s attorney has contended that council had no authority to cut the mayor’s pay in mid-term because city rules require any pay changes to be effective on the subsequent term of office.
The issue of the city paying for Haddix’s legal fees in the libel case was brought about because the risk management agency was convinced to cover the cost of the legal charges and settlement after the case concluded. The agency ruled that since the alleged libelous statement was contained in an email Haddix sent to a city employee, it was an official act Haddix undertook as mayor.
Others contend that Haddix’s labeling of former Mayor Harold Logsdon as “part-drunk” at council meetings was a personal cheap shot and not one deriving from his official duties.
As for the subsequent lawsuit considered by Haddix, the city’s risk management agency denied coverage for the city and the four council members.